Biochar improves soil aggregate stability and water availability in a mollisol after three years of field application

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Abstract

© 2016 Ma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. A field experiment was carried out to evaluate the effect of organic amendments on soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, bulk density, aggregate stability, field capacity and plant available water in a representative Chinese Mollisol. Four treatments were as follows: no fertilization (CK), application of inorganic fertilizer (NPK), combined application of inorganic fertilizer with maize straw (NPK+S) and addition of biochar with inorganic fertilizer (NPK+B). Our results showed that after three consecutive years of application, the values of soil bulk density were significantly lower in both organic amendment-treated plots than in unamended (CK and NPK) plots. Compared with NPK, NPK+B more effectively increased the contents of soil organic carbon, improved the relative proportion of soil macro-aggregates and mean weight diameter, and enhanced field capacity as well as plant available water. Organic amendments had no obvious effect on soil C/N ratio or wilting coefficient. The results of linear regression indicated that the improvement in soil water retention could be attributed to the increases in soil organic carbon and aggregate stability.

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Ma, N., Zhang, L., Zhang, Y., Yang, L., Yu, C., Yin, G., … Ma, X. (2016). Biochar improves soil aggregate stability and water availability in a mollisol after three years of field application. PLoS ONE, 11(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154091

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